“Spay-neuter,” as the policy is called, has become the automatic mantra of those concerned with the lives of dogs. It’s not hard to see why. Say you live in a city with a dog. Stepping outside for a walk on a sunny day, you encounter other dogs: smiling golden retrievers; a smattering of small furry white dogs in sweaters; barking and wagging dachshunds; black-and-white dogs of all sizes; wiggling pit mixes — maybe 100 dogs in an hour. For every one of the 100 dogs you see, 18 healthy dogs will be euthanized in the United States on that day — a mile-long queue of recently smiling, barking, wiggling but now dead dogs.

It’s our species’ fault. We molded a resourceful carnivore into an animal critically dependent on humans for survival. But while we made dogs dependent, we have not held ourselves accountable: We lose dogs, let them run unchecked, give them up when they’re a nuisance or difficult. And so there are too many dogs, and the excess must be killed.

In other words, to solve the problem of our unwillingness to keep track of our dogs, we do not address our own unwillingness. To address the overpopulation of unwanted dogs, we do not address the overpopulation. Instead, we non sequitur: we take brand-new dogs and introduce them into our homes by first putting them through a surgery at six, four, or even three months of age. The professed solution, in the United States, is to spay or neuter all the new ones.